Town adds to improvements plan

As the town of Woodstock inches closer to approving its 2016-22 Capital Improvements Plan, it has added a project to the mix calling for two athletics fields at the Wetzel Farm.

At a finance committee meeting on Tuesday, Town Manager Reid Wodicka explained that the fields could be used to soccer or lacrosse.

Councilman Mike Funkhouser said, “I think we need more space for lacrosse and soccer … especially with those two sports growing.”

At the moment, the Wetzel Farm is used by Central High School for cross country meets and regional cross country tournaments.

Councilman Frank Haun said, “It would be nice to have some facilities there for kids to use. And even for soccer … a wall of porta-Johns isn’t exactly attractive.”

The committee added the project to the overall improvements plan — which is subject to approval by town council in August — with 2020 being the target date for the town to tackle the project.

Wodicka explained that the town would have more room in 2020, because the debt service it is paying off would be $60,000 less than it would be in 2019.

With the established slate of CIP projects, the town would not be able to issue debt on the fields project until 2020, according to Wodicka.

As it stands, the capital improvements plan calls for $9.3 million in improvements from water treatment facility upgrades, renovations to the Old Woodstock School and various additional projects.

According to preliminary estimates, the athletics fields project would cost $270,000 with restroom facilities, and $150,000 without the facilities.

Wodicka noted that the $120,000 difference between the two options is based on what the town spent on the restroom facilities at W.O. Riley Park.

The option with restrooms would add an estimated $34,761 in payments, while the restroom-less option would cost an estimated $19,311 per year, Wodicka explained.

Councilwoman A. Paje Cross said, “I know it’s more money, but I think if you’re going to do something, you have to build facilities.”

The committee as a whole expressed a desire to avoid pulling from the town’s general fund balance in order to pay for the project.

Town Mayor Jeremy McCleary noted the possibility of the town accepting private donations to assist with project funding.

Haun indicated that accepting private donations for the project “could push the timeline” to a closer date than 2020.

Haun also said that the site for the proposed athletics fields is located at the same site as the town’s 2008 Fairview Park Master Plan.

According to the town website, the plan included ideas to develop a town-wide trail system, a multi-use ballpark and additional recreational facilities such as an indoor swimming pool.

“What I would suggest is that we take a look at it and see what are still viable options at that site,” Wodicka said.

He added, “We have really not included anything in the CIP to build that out, so this [field project] might be a good start.”

The committee voted unanimously to recommend the plan’s approval to town council at its August meeting, with the inclusion of the athletics fields at Wetzel Farm.

“This is the first time that Woodstock has had a comprehensive financial plan for capital improvements,” Wodicka said.

Wodicka added, “We think this is a really smart, thoughtful plan that will serve the town well for the next several years, and serve as a benchmark for how we manage capital finances.”

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kgreen@nvdaily.com